Summer swings deepen Jasper attackSeptember 6, 2013
By JOSEPH FANELLI
Herald Sports Writer
JASPER — Jessica Rillo is stuck in the sand about 70 yards from the pin on hole No. 5. She pulls out her pitching wedge and squares herself toward the hole. It’s not an ideal situation, but she swings and the ball sails and drops squarely on the green. Two putts later she sinks in a 2-footer for par.
From disaster to triumph, just like that.
“Yeah, I was impressed with that shot,” she said with a laugh.
Rillo was part of a winning effort at Jasper Municipal Golf Course on Thursday afternoon in Jasper’s 169-237 victory over Southridge. The Wildcats continued their unbeaten streak in dual matches and added their second victory in as many days. Senior Annie Getzin led all golfers with a 1-over-par 37, followed by Annika Harmon at 41 and Sarah Ackerman at 44. Catherine Bell (47) and Bailey Bromm (56) added to the Cats’ scorecard.
Rillo, who shot a 48, is playing her best golf in her first season as a varsity player. Coach Steve Milligan called the senior his most improved player from 2012. With the departure of a talented senior class last season, her jump is especially important to fill out the second half of a talented five-girl lineup, with Getzin, Harmon and Ackerman holding down the top three spots. And the secret to her success is quite simple.
“She worked so hard over the summertime,” Milligan said. “I’m sitting here looking out of my office window (at Muni) and I see her pull up, 9 o’clock every day. She was going out and playing. ... And that’s what it takes: play, play, play. When the season started, scores started coming down for her.”
The 48, which Rillo admits is not her best but an improvement after a tough round Wednesday at Castle, is a testament to her improved short game, as evidenced on her shot out of the sand trap on No. 5. Entering the season, Rillo said she wanted to make a difference, especially as a senior.
“I knew the team needed me step up and fill some shoes,” Rillo said. “I wanted to make them proud. It was a lot of pressure at first.”
But if there is anything to relax the nerves, it’s nine holes with the girls of the Jasper golf team. Yes, there is the occasional glare or look of despair toward the sky, but all girls, Southridge included, spent the day smiling, cheering for each other and exchanging high-fives. The two teams even finished the day with a couple boxes of pizza. Who said golfers can’t have fun?
That does not mean they’re not competitive, though. With the Big Eight Conference meet coming up next weekend and sectional the weekend after that, Rillo is among eight golfers who Milligan said are fighting for the final two spots.
“Everybody can hit the ball, but it’s going to come down to the short game and putting,” Milligan said. “And tonight at this match, I saw a lot of putts miss. Those short putts are going to make a difference between making the cut or not making the cut (at sectional).”
As for Southridge, it’s relying on the play of a younger lineup that is replacing seven seniors from last season’s roster. Taylor Seufert has been the team’s top golfer this season, leading the Raiders again Tuesday with a 52. Other scores for the Raiders were Megan Weitkamp at 60, Paige Snyder at 63 and Rosa Ornelas with a 67.
“(Seufert) only broke 50 once this year so anytime she’s right around 50 or close to breaking it, I’m always happy to see that,” Raider coach Phil Olinger said. “She’s especially stepped up with the leadership and you can see that not only with our teammates, but I hear from other players how nice she’s been.”
Seufert and sophomore Chloe Huff played their round with Getzin and Harmon, a challenge Olinger said is important to their growth.
“It’s absolutely good and necessary,” Olinger said. “They need to see what the potential of ... putting your heart and soul into something and watching those results come out in front of you. It’s good for them to see something like that.”
Huff, a sophomore, shot a 62, but showed flashes of potential. On the ninth hole, she sunk a 15-foot chip shot from just outside the green.
“I felt a lot better after that,” Huff said. “It made me feel a lot better about my score tonight.”
Contact Joseph Fanelli at firstname.lastname@example.org
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